As a deer hunter, one of the best times to scout for velvet whitetail deer is at the end of July and early August. It’s at this time most bucks are at least 75 percent grown. Big bucks are often far more visible during the summer months than other times of the year. Scouting for deer during this time, and finding big bucks in the summer months can help you set some goals for the fall. We’ve put together 3 effective ways to find velvet whitetails to help you prepare for a more successful hunting season this fall.
Method #1 Trail Cameras
Trail cameras have become one of the most relied upon tools by hunters and for good reason. Trail cams are watching what’s going on 24/7, something we can’t do. They provide data without interfering or putting “pressure” on the deer. Trail cams have shown us an entirely new world, often showing us deer that we wouldn’t know existed otherwise! Checking trail cameras is like Christmas morning. The excitement and anticipation of what may be on that card gives most of us that tingly excited feeling inside! When it comes to using trail cameras in the summer there are a few ways to get great pictures. Check out some of our instructional videos on trail cams on our education page.
Food – Focus on food during the summer. If you live in an area with agriculture like the midwest bean fields are one of the best possible places to have a camera. The edge of corn fields can also be great. Out west alfalfa is typically dominant.
Mineral – If you are focusing on an area that does not have food you may need to provide some kind of food or attraction to your camera location. Typically during the summer deer are on a very consistent pattern. Most bucks will have a similar routine every day. If your camera location is not on their route you may be missing out. This is when something like minerals or attractants can be a great bonus. Deer will seek out minerals during the summer months while they are growing their antlers. It’s also great for does after they have fawns. Make sure you check your state’s laws and regulations as this is not legal in all states or it may be legal but only for a certain period of time.
Water – Likely the most overlooked location to get great pictures is a water source. During summer months deer frequently visit locations to water. You can also create a water source. This has worked great for us in the past resulting in some great pictures as well as intel to where bucks are living.
Method #2 Put On The Miles!
Believe it or not, gravel travel can be one of the most effective ways to find velvet bucks. In the wee hours of the morning as deer are still feeding or more preferably in the evening you can typically find bachelor groups of bucks heading to feed for the night. For those of you who may not know, during the summer bucks will group up into small groups called “bachelor groups”. They will typically hang out together for the duration of the summer. Spend the majority of your time focusing on bean fields or alfalfa. This is a great way to find deer in the area as well as learn some of their habits.
Deer will typically change their habits once they shed the velvet but this still gives you a great idea of what is in your area. On some occasions you may find a deer you want to pursue with the possibility of getting permission. Many years ago this used to be much easier, those days are not completely gone but certainly more difficult this day and age.
Method #3 Boots on The Ground
Putting boots on the ground is always one of the best ways to scout. However it is wise to be aware of the amount of pressure you put on deer. If you are trying to learn a new piece of property this is a great time to do it. If you bump deer during the summer it’s very unlikely that it will run them out of the property for a long period of time. However, if you consistently bump deer it can certainly make deer uncomfortable and cause them to relocate.
This method is also a great way to see deer that are not visible from the road. Be conscious of your wind directions and bring a spotting scope. Give yourself room so that you don’t need to be on top of the deer. With this method you will certainly find more deer. Trail cameras are great but they only cover a very small area. Obviously your eyes give you the ability to cover a large area at once. If you want to consistently view deer this way, keep your distance, don’t be invasive, let the deer do their thing so you can observe them undisturbed.
Following a few key tips like these as you plan for hunting season can be a lot of fun and can help you be more successful this fall. Obviously some of the best practices are a blend of every method. There is no set way required, try all kinds of methods and figure out what works for you. At the end of the day summer scouting will give you a leg up come fall!